Low-carb diet may prevent cognitive decline

Low-carb diet may prevent cognitive decline

A low-carbohydrate diet has been found to have many benefits, including weight loss and improved blood sugar levels. Now, there’s another advantage: Eating fewer carbs may prevent age-related brain changes.

Recent findings by researchers at Stony Brook University in New York suggest that brain changes can be detected in people as young as their mid-40s. Using neuro-imaging, the study’s authors also found that brain aging indicators can fluctuate along with eating habits.

After analyzing the brain imaging data of more than 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 88, the researchers scanned the brains of a smaller group of people under age 50.

To test the effect of food on the participants’ brain network stability, they separated the subjects into two groups. One group ate a low-carbohydrate diet for a week while the others had unrestricted eating. The low-carbohydrate diet produced a more efficient fuel source for the participants’ bodies and brains. That translated into greater brain energy and a more stable brain network.

What exactly is behind the negative effects of unrestricted eating on the brain? The researchers believe aging lowers the body’s ability to efficiently process glucose. That may lead to neuron dysfunction and a less stable brain network.

But the research also found a positive twist: For people in their 50s, a diet that relies more heavily on fats and proteins and less on carbohydrates seems to improve and stabilize brain function.

So, at mealtime, what is good for the body — a moderate protein, low-carb diet — may also be good for the mind. Food for thought, for sure.

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